Introduction During the last decades, systemic implementation of immunisation schedules has led to practical elimination of many vaccine-preventable diseases and has attributed to a dramatic decrease in deaths and disabilities. In Greece, recent economic crisis has severely affected access to healthcare services, with a possible significant impact on vaccination coverage.
Methods Records of visits in the paediatric outpatient unit of a general hospital in Athens during 2009–2016 were retrospectively reviewed and analysed based on the patients’ insurance coverage.
Results Since the beginning of financial crisis there was a profound increase in the number of children visiting our paediatric outpatient department, with an approximate 50% rise between 2009 and 2016. Additionally, the percentage of children presenting for vaccination has gradually and steadily risen from 11% in 2009 to 42% in 2016. As a result, vaccination out-patient visits have increased almost eightfold in a 7 year period. The proportion of uninsured children among those who were vaccinated was 24% in 2009 and skyrocketed to 70% in 2015. Interestingly, visits for immunisation of children covered by health insurance also raised by 337% between 2009 and 2016.
Conclusions As expected, due to the recent financial crisis, demand on public healthcare services has increased. This is clearly depicted in the rise in out-patient visits in a public hospital. Especially vaccination visits presented an impressive growth mainly due to various primary healthcare issues. Therefore, the unencumbered access to healthcare services should be ensured. Continuous efforts are needed in order to advance parents’ awareness on the importance of vaccination.
Hinman AR, Orenstein WA, Schuchat A; Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccine-preventable diseases, immunizations, and MMWR-1961-2011. MMWR Suppl. 2011;60(4):49-57.
Karanikolos M, Mladovsky P, Cylus J, et al. Financial crisis, austerity, and health in Europe. Lancet. 2013;381(9874):1323-31.
Papaevangelou V, Koutsoumbari I, Vintila A. Determinants of vaccination coverage and adherence to the Greek national immunisation program among infants aged 2-24 months at the beginning of the economic crisis (2009-2011). BMC Public Health. 2014, 14:1192.
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